Lee Pitts: A committee of one
I’m not a real meeting-goer. The last meeting I went to was 20 years ago, and believe me, it felt like it lasted that long. I doubt the Rotarians would have me and, although I think highly of them, I’m not a Moose, Elk, Lion or any other group of wild animals that meet regularly. I was on a planning commission once but the group seemed to think that our town might be better off if I stayed home.
One of the reasons I dislike meetings so much is that I was a member of the FFA in high school and all our meetings were conducted properly using Robert’s Rules of Order. Although groups say they are using the same rules today, I think they are really using Howard or Helen’s Rules of Order. Or whoever else is President.
The primary reason I hate meetings is that any time you get more than two people together they start acting stupid. Instead of saying, “That’s the most idiotic idea I’ve ever heard,” you hear yourself seconding the motion. And elections? You gotta be kidding. When’s the last time you saw a group actually take nominations from the floor, give each candidate a chance to speak, and then vote? Instead, some brain trust known as the nominating committee meets in secret and comes up with a list of candidates with only one person nominated for each office. When the chairperson, or chairhuman, asks for further nominations no one dares nominate another person for fear of being banished, or being made secretary.
Some people spend their lives going to meetings and if you go to enough pretty soon you find yourself being sent to the ultimate meeting, a convention, where you get to stay in fancy hotels you’d never think of staying in if you had to pay for it yourself. But you’ll pay a price in other ways for whatever group you represent, whether it is beef, hogs or beets, you’ll eat some form of it at every meal. Even for breakfast. Prune pancakes, beef oatmeal or spinach waffles anyone?
Your reward for sitting through all the boring committee meetings is that you get to play in the pre-convention golf tournament, shop in stores you don’t have at home, or see sights you’d never see otherwise. This is why conventions are held in New Orleans and Las Vegas and not Lovelock or Laredo. Aside from giving each other gaudy plaques for their service, serious attendees collect business cards, network, play politics, listen to professors drone on and spend their hours producing minutes.
Let’s be frank, the real reason people go to conventions is the trade show where you are given a canvas bag to fill with free goodies. It’s like Halloween for old people. And you don’t even have to wear a mask! It’s also the reason why many men and women take their spouse, so they get two swag bags instead of just one.
At the convention the pecking order is decided by how long your name badge is. Just like the merit badges you earned in Cub Scouts or Girl Scouts, at the convention you are given a name badge composed of cards with each one representing a committee or a position. The longer your name badge hangs from your neck, the more important you are. If it reaches your navel or rests on the top of your belly you are probably President. If you drag your name badge behind you like a tail, you are so important when you walk through crowds the plebeians will part like you are king.
Of course, the purpose of any convention is to form committees. If you find yourself on one of these, congratulations, you have arrived. And if you keep your nose clean, show you are a team player, and don’t get too drunk or obnoxious at the cocktail party, you may one day find yourself on the all important steering, long range planning or nominating committee. Or, heaven forbid, a BLUE RIBBON TASK FORCE! Be advised, it’s not exactly like the blue ribbon you won at the fair for your hog or your sheep, but the boss hog will undoubtedly lead, and the sheep will be expected to follow.